MA Sports Betting Regulator Latest To Go Strict On Ads

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MA sports betting

Massachusetts will have some of the strongest advertising regulations in the industry when it opens legal MA sports betting this year. 

State regulators even considered Thursday the seemingly unfathomable idea to not feature Massachusetts sports betting advertising in stadiums like Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium and TD Garden

“Could an advertisement actually not happen at TD Garden?” MGC Commissioner Jordan Maynard asked at one point.

The MGC’s stricter stance follows Ohio sports betting regulators holding the line on tougher state regulations since their Jan. 1 launch.

‘75% vs. 85% threshold’ debate

That was based on a draft regulation of a sports betting ad ban at events aimed at minors or anywhere 25% of people in attendance would be reasonably expected to be under 21.

The commission debated what was referred to as a “75% vs. 85% threshold.” It ultimate settled on the original 75%, more easily understood as the aforementioned 25%. 

As a result, there will be in-stadium advertising in the Commonwealth.

MA sports betting timeline

MA retail sports betting will launch on Jan. 31, pending final regulatory steps. MA online sports betting will launch in early March.

State regulators have been tough on operators during their license hearings concerning detailed responsible gaming plans, and prohibiting marketing and promotional materials to people under 21. 

The Ohio Casino Control Commission has dropped the hammer on several sportsbooks that broke advertising rules. BetMGM, Caesars and DraftKings each face of a possible fine of $150,000

MA sports betting specific bet ban

The regulations also cover a ban on ads or promotion of specific wagers. 

It reads:

No employee or vendor of any sports wagering operator shall advise or encourage individual patrons to place a specific wager of any specific type, kind, subject or amount. This restriction does not prohibit general advertising or promotional activities. 

Promo deductions TBD

MGM Springfield, Fanatics and DraftKings sent letters to state regulators urging for them to allow for promotional deductions. 

From the DraftKings letter: 

Rationale: DraftKings respectfully requests that the Commission explicitly exclude promotional gaming credits1 from Adjusted Gross Sports Wagering Receipts. Including promotional gaming credits would result in the Commonwealth levying taxes on totals that do not reflect actual revenue earned by a sports wagering operator. Excluding promotional credits is the fairest way to tax sports wagering operators, and is the policy chosen by a significant number of online sports wagering states. 

The commission determined it has authority on promotional deductions by a 3-2 vote. But state regulators did not make a final determination, opting to continue discussions at a later date. 

They will convene Jan. 18-19 to reevaluate and vote on the six untethered online sports betting operators. Discussion on regulations will resume Jan. 20.